In this talk given in Miami,
His Holiness Hrdayananda dasa Goswami
Exposes the cause of today’s chaos.
Last night I was invited to speak on a radio program, the Alan Burke Show. Some other people also spoke, but they were simply presenting some useless idea of God. That is the actual situation at the present time. I hope you will excuse me, but I’m going to speak very bluntly, because at the present time, not only in America but also all around the world, people have completely forgotten what God actually is. And because people, despite what they call themselves (Christians or Hindus or Muslims or Jews or whatever), are in fact simply becoming materialistic and have no clear understanding of who God is or what God’s desire is or how to please God, the practical result is that the present world is simply in chaos. It is in political chaos, psychological chaos, social chaos. The family is in chaos…. Everything is more or less chaotic, and we are simply struggling, trying to maintain our society. Crime, inflation, mental illness, political trouble—we are in a very dangerous situation. And at any moment, everything may be destroyed by a nuclear holocaust.
Now, we are saying that these problems are caused by our forgetting God. For example, if the children in a family follow their father’s wise advice, then the family goes very nicely. But if the father is forgotten or disobeyed, then the family will become chaotic. It is a very simple thing. So in the same way, we are actually meant to follow the law of God. However much money we may have in our bank account, or whatever type of car we may drive, or whatever title we may have after our name, or however beautiful we may be, or however strong, or however famous, we are in fact criminals because we are not following the law of God. Anyone who does not follow the law—he is a criminal.
So, very frankly, in this Krsna consciousness movement we are trying to train a group of men and women who are purified and competent, and qualified to give this country something which it has not had for a long time—and that is spiritual direction. I was shocked last night to see supposedly learned gentlemen—spiritual leaders—speaking such nonsense.
For instance, someone called in to this program and wanted to know why the weather is becoming so crazy. (I believe yesterday it snowed in Wyoming or somewhere, and usually it doesn’t snow in the spring.) So this caller wanted to know why the weather is becoming so bad. And the various members of the panel said, “I don’t know. I can’t explain it.”
So I said, “I know—we are being punished by God.” God is all-powerful. So He certainly has the power to change the weather. Therefore, if we are experiencing such difficult times (extreme cold and rain and so on and so forth), this is punishment from God.
And yet one of these so-called religious leaders was such a fool that he said, “No, God doesn’t control these things.”
So I insisted, “Yes He does, and we are being punished.”
And then he said, “No. God is love. God would not punish.”
So I had to point out to him, “Doesn’t the mother sometimes punish the child, out of love? Is it that the mother shows her love for her child only by giving him whatever he likes? ‘You want to play in the street? Yes, go play in the street. You want to eat only candy? Yes, eat only candy. Whatever you like, do that. This is my love,’ ” This is not love. This is foolishness. Sometimes a mother may punish the child, and sometimes a mother may embrace the child. Both of these things are love.
And in this way I was also making the point that God is a person. And yet these foolish people wanted to say publicly, on the air, that “No, God is not a person. God has no individuality. He can express His love only through us. This world is the expression of God’s love—God has to express Himself through us.”
This is a very unintelligent idea. Why does God have to depend on us? Can’t God express Himself? Someone may say, “I am speaking—this is God expressing Himself.” But can’t God also speak for Himself? Is He so foolish? Is He so weak? Is He so unintelligent that He cannot speak personally?
In this way—because we are accepting so many compromising, watered-down, wishy-washy, ambiguous ideas about God—there is practically no more spiritual life in this country, or anywhere else in the world. Simply hypocrisy and bluffing. So this Krsna consciousness movement has been started to give all people real spiritual life.
We should not be proud that we can have very frequent sex or think that because someone is very good at sex, therefore he is a very big man. Even such common and low animals as pigs, dogs, pigeons, and asses have lots of sex. But a pig—he cannot distinguish that there’s a soul within his body. A pig or a dog cannot read scripture. They cannot chant God’s name. They can simply eat and sleep, they can have sex, and they can fight with each other. But we are not meant to be like pigs and dogs and restrict our activities to eating very nicely in fancy restaurants, sleeping in a very nice condominium or mansion, and defending ourselves with so many nuclear weapons, and then very active, very vigorous sex life.
Nowadays people think, “If I have plenty of eating, sleeping, sex, and defense, then my life is perfect—I have made it. . . .” This is not a fact, because these four activities, while they cannot be denied or repressed, alone constitute only animal life and not human life. A devotee of the Lord also eats, he also sleeps, he may also defend himself, and he may also have married life and sex for procreation. But he does not limit himself to these things. No…. Just because someone can eat in a nice restaurant or sleep in a penthouse or have very nice sex, that doesn’t mean that his life is successful. He is simply fulfilling his bodily necessities. Our life is successful when we can understand God, and understand the soul within this body.
And it is important to point out that understanding God does not mean, as it has become very popular to say nowadays, “Whatever you think, that’s all right. If it makes you happy, whatever you believe is all right.” This is spiritual anarchy. For example, if we give someone a driver’s license we don’t tell him, “You just drive however it makes you happy. You just get in that car, turn on the engine, and just do whatever you feel like doing. Just be happy.” No. There are traffic laws. There are rules and regulations. You have to stop here, turn here … So, also, there are laws of God, and we have to follow them and study what God is. Then we can be free.
In America we study everything very scientifically—everything except God. For example, we have big departments in the universities to study oceanography. We send down bathyscaphes and submarines to study the ocean. And we have geology, archaeology, and related sciences to study the land. Similarly, we have space science and also the sciences of anatomy, biology, psychology. We have so many sciences, and we Americans are very proud that we are very scientific. But how scientific are we about the soul? How scientific are we about God? Ordinarily, we are so scientific, but when it comes to God, we suddenly become unscientific and we say, “Oh, whatever you think is all right. It doesn’t matter.” Why doesn’t it matter? Why does it matter so much whether it’s going to rain or not tomorrow, what the weather will be, or exactly what the fish look like on the bottom of the ocean, or what people looked like seven thousand years ago? This is a disgrace, that in every other field we are so scientific, but when it comes to God we are so whimsical and so disinterested—”Whatever you think is all right.” This kind of lack of seriousness is spoiling this country.
Now, when we say that we are not this body, that we are the soul within this body, this is not our opinion. This can be demonstrated. I will now demonstrate it Everyone can understand by a little contemplation that previously he or she was a young boy or a young girl. In those days we had a very tiny body. We were playing with our little body. So now—where is that body? Where is that young girl’s body or young boy’s body that was playing? That’s gone.
Actually, it is a fact of science that every seven years your body is changing For example, your hair and nails are growing, your skin is gradually flaking away and being replaced. In the same way, all the parts of the body are being replaced, and in seven years’ time, you’ll have a body made of new components. So therefore, your body will be different—but you will still be the same person.
If a child leaves his home, leaves his family, and then comes back in ten years, immediately his mother and father will embrace him. They will say, “My son has come back!” The same body hasn’t come back; it’s actually a different body. So who is that person whom we are loving?
If you say, “I love my son” or “I love my father” or “I love my wife,” who are you actually loving? Are you loving their body? Or are you loving something else which is inside the body? Actually, it is that “something else.”
Each of us can understand, each of us can feel, “I am still the same person I always was. Yes, I may be in a different place now. My body is different and I’m doing something different. But I’m the same person.” So practically any fool can understand, “I am not this body.” But unfortunately, our entire American or Western civilization is based on the idea that “I am this body,” that “I’m American,” “I’m a man,” “I’m a woman,” “I’m so many years old,” “I’m black,” “I’m white,” “I’m Christian,” “I’m Hindu.” These things only describe the body—and we are not the body. So … our entire civilization is, in fact, based on a mistake.
And because our entire civilization is based on a mistake, everything is coming out wrong. For instance, we’ve built all these big cities so that we can have a comfortable life, but unfortunately, there are juvenile gangs, there is drug addiction, there is pollution, there are new diseases—there are so many problems. And- we cannot overcome these problems. We try to solve our problems and we create more problems—because it’s all based on a mistake.
That first part of the mistake is thinking, “I am this body”—”man” or “woman,” “young” or “old,” “American” or “Chinese.” “I am this material body, this flesh and bones…… And the second part of the mistake is thinking that the purpose of our life is to gratify this body. So if you are determined, stubborn, to go on thinking, “I am a body, and the purpose of my life is to gratify this body,” then don’t talk about spiritual life. Don’t talk about religion. Because you won’t find this nonsense in any religion. If we want to accept that “I am a body and the purpose of life is to gratify this body,” then we should not be hypocrites and pretend that we belong to some religion.
So this is the first point of spiritual life: How can we talk about “spiritual life” unless we admit that we ourselves are spirit?
And next we have to ask, If there is such a thing as spirit, what is that spirit? No one knows this. But that spirit is the soul within the body—and we are that soul. This body is just like our outward dress. For example, at night when you go to sleep, you take off your clothes, you put them away, and you lie down in your bed and go to sleep. And you forget everything. And in the morning you wake up and you put on some new clothes and you go out again. So exactly like this, some day you’ll die.
Here is the answer to the question, “What is death?”—death means that you get rid of one body and take another. Now there is great interest in death and dying. But the “experts” are simply giving so many foolish ideas. Here is the real explanation: death is exactly like taking off your clothes and going to sleep. This body is just like a dress; you take it off at the time of death. Then you go to sleep inside the womb of another mother, and you come out again in a new dress, a new body. That’s a fact.
This is called transmigration of the soul. After all, you are eternal. So because you are eternal, you have to go somewhere. For example, now I’m in Miami. A few days ago I was somewhere else, and a few days from now I’ll be somewhere else. You may not see me, but I’ll still be existing. So just as I am moving from one city to another city, or just as you may go from one room to another room in your house, so the soul is moving from one body to another body. This is a fact. This is called karma, or transmigration of the soul.
So a logical question should be, “Why is this happening to me? How did I get into this situation? Why am I going from one body to another?” And the answer is very simple … common sense. Americans like common sense, so here is something which is common sense: that here in this world we are taking one body after another because we want to, because we desire it. For instance, why did you come here? Because you wanted to. And why are you going to leave? Because you want to. So why do you have that body? Because you wanted it. And why did we want this body? To enjoy material life.
Isn’t it a fact that everyone, with their body, is trying to enjoy? For example, if you have a woman’s body, then you are trying to enjoy a man, and if you have a man’s body, you are trying to enjoy a woman. And if you have a child’s body, you want to play. So, based on the particular type of body we have, we want to enjoy. And that’s why we got this body. So if, at the time of our death, we want to go on enjoying material life, then God is very liberal, He’s very kind—He’ll give you another one. “Here’s another body. Now try again.” And then, “Here’s another body.” And we can go on as long as we like, trying to enjoy this material world.
But unfortunately, it’s impossible. Why? Because in this life there is birth, death, old age, and disease. Yet people are becoming so foolish that they can’t see the obvious. For instance, last night on the radio program, I said that in this life there are so many miseries—such as birth, old age, disease, and death. So immediately one so-called religious leader said, “Well, you can’t say old age is miserable, you can’t say disease is miserable, you can’t say death is miserable.”
So at this point it was becoming so outrageous that even the announcer, this Mr. Burke, had to cut in and say, “Excuse me, but actually these things are miserable. Let’s not get out of hand.”
This life is just like a new car that doesn’t work right but you can’t take it back—it’s already yours. So after you buy it and you find out there was a better car you could have bought, now you have to defend it—”No, actually it’s a nice car…. It has a lot of nice features. . . .”
Anyway, since we have taken material life to be the all in all, therefore we are trying to defend it. “No, death is actually not bad. You simply have to understand it. And disease—why, that’s simply another experience. And old age—that’s the best time of life.” So in this way, people are becoming so foolish that they can’t understand the most simple thing: how they are being punished.
What we’re saying, then, is that spiritual life (or religion) means teaching people, “The purpose of your life is to get out of this miserable condition.” People sometimes say that the Hare Krsna devotees are just escapists. Of course we’re “escapists.” Anyone in his right mind would be. Say you’re caught in a forest fire, and suddenly a fireman cuts an opening through the wall of fire and yells, “Come out quickly! Run!” If you said, “Why should I escape?” that would be escaping—that would be escaping safety. So if we want to become free from old age and death, then of course we are escaping. Anyone who doesn’t want to escape is crazy.
Then again, it’s not that we cannot function in this world. No, we can function very nicely in this world. But at the same time, if we’re intelligent we’ll make plans to get out of it. For example, if you are living in an apartment and you get a notice that you will be evicted in one week, you look for another apartment. Not that you act like a hippie or a crazy person and wait till the last day, and then they throw you out and you have to live in the street. No. We should look to find another place.
So in the same way, we already know that we are going to be evicted from this body. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the President of the United States or a beggar in the street. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are or what you’ve got or haven’t got—you’re going to be evicted from your body. So we have to make plans. This is sanity.
So spiritual life means to understand God, to understand what the spiritual world is, so that at the time of death we can transfer ourselves to the spiritual world for an eternal life of bliss and knowledge. And we devotees are actually doing that; otherwise we wouldn’t be chanting Hare Krsna. We are not crazy—we know what we are doing. We are transferring ourselves, we are getting eternal life. But that is not some kind of whimsical process; it has to be done very scientifically.
Let’s say you want to take an airplane to Puerto Rico. Now, you know that this plane had to be constructed so carefully. Just imagine how many years it took to design that airplane, how many years it took to train the pilot, to construct all the radar systems. And in the same way, if it takes so many years and years of work and study and research just so that you transfer yourself by airplane from Miami to Puerto Rico, then how much work must it take, how much study must it take, to transfer yourself all the way out of this universe to the spiritual world? How much research and work must that take? But people are so whimsical that they say, “Oh, religion means that you do whatever you like and that’s all right.” Would you be happy if your pilot was thinking that way? Or would you get on the plane and say to the pilot, “Just do whatever makes you feel good. If you want to push that button there, if that makes you feel good, then push it”?
As you can easily see, then, we Hare Krsna devotees are not professional priests who are simply speaking what people want to hear or inventing some new philosophy or some new quasi-religious process or some psychological theory for improving your sex life. If that’s all you want, just pay a visit to the neighborhood pigpen; the pigs will show you everything about sex….
People want to embrace this material body and love it, but let’s be realistic; let’s be scientific. What is this body? If you look inside this body, what will you find? Bile, mucus, air, blood, bones, guts, stool, urine…. Are these things lovable? If I give you a nice bag filled with all these elements, will you love it? Will you embrace it and kiss it? So why are we dedicating our life to this body? Why not dedicate our life to the soul—to the consciousness inside this body? That is Krsna consciousness.
So although all of you are coming from different backgrounds, different religions, different cultures, still we are appealing to all of you—please try to understand this movement very seriously. It is not an Indian movement or an American movement. It is nothing of the kind. It is a pure, spiritual movement giving the best knowledge about God and the best knowledge about the soul. And we say that not in a sectarian spirit. It is simply a fact.